When God first brought us back from exile, we were as dazed as those who dream. Then were our mouths brimming with laughter; joy from our lips gushed like a stream. The godless cried in envious wonder, “Look what the LORD has done for them!” Indeed our God has greatly blessed us; rejoice and sing, Jerusalem!
2 Once more, O LORD, restore your people; come with your saving help again, as to the brook-beds in the desert you bring the sweet, reviving rain. Let those who sow with tears and sighing sing as they reap and joy proclaim; may those who weep when seed is scattered gather their sheaves and praise your name.
As we grow older, we often like to look back and celebrate the past (although for some we might prefer if it were left behind.) Generally, we focus on the good times. We recall the good things that have happened in the past and that causes us to give thanks. For many of us the Church has played an important part in our lives perhaps for many years or just a few and it has brought us much joy. It has been an oasis when life has been challenging for the rest of the week. It has been a source of joy with faith, fellowship, fun and food playing an important role.
There may have been times when we have not been able to worship and found ourselves separated from the Church family and been overjoyed when we have been able to return. This of course was true during the pandemic and it was good last Christmas to return to celebrate Christ’s birth together properly for the first time in 3 years.
But for many, Church is not the same as it has been in the past with the reduction in numbers, the lack of children and young people and the challenges of running the church. Psalm 126 looks to God for hope for the future, when tears and weeping can be turned into joy. Our rescuer God can act today as God has in history, including in our own past.
The Psalm ends with the powerful image of seeds being sown as people weep, which results in a harvest and praise. We can lament the present and do nothing or we can continue in our calling to be faithful in sowing seeds. That’s not easy when we are dispirited and life looks bleak. But unless we cooperate with God in declaring his love to a broken troubled world, there will be no harvest of new life.
Lord, for the past with laughter on our lips, we want to give thanks. Lord, for the present with tears in our eyes, we seek your hope. Lord, for the future with faith in our hearts, we pray for your kingdom to come.
The Rev’d George Watt, Moderator Thames North Synod